The 'Silence of Feminists' Over Michelle

Charlotte Observer columnist Mary C. Curtis is in high dudgeon. She is all twisted up inside over the seeming lack of support that feminists have for Michelle Obama. She has decided to scold all those recalcitrant feminists, too. Yes, she's all upset over this thing wondering in her June 21 Washington Post op-ed, "Where are Obama's feminist defenders?" Curtis is even moaning that black women are second-class citizens, even with feminists. She is all in righteous indignation about the "The Loud Silence Of Feminists."

Curtis is agonizing over the fact that women aren't defending Michelle Obama. She imagines that feminists have failed women, specifically black women. Well, I agree at some point. Feminists have failed women, but the least of which is Michelle Obama. Not that Curtis seemed to notice, but feminists have indeed been silent on the treatment of women in the Muslim world. They have sat silent over forced weddings, beatings, female circumcision of children, rape, stoning and so-called honor killings going on not just in the Middle East, but in every western country that has a sizable Muslim population.

Still, Curtis is only interested in Michelle Obama. She warms us up with some hagiography of Michelle.

Michelle Obama has become an issue in the presidential campaign even though she isn't running for anything. An educated, successful lawyer, devoted wife and caring mother has been labeled "angry" and unpatriotic and snidely referred to as Barack Obama's "baby mama."

As if Michelle, the angriest possible first lady ever, doesn't have the spine to defend herself? Of course, like most Democrats whining about how Michelle Obama is being treated, Curtis forgets that Michelle is the one that went out on the campaign trail forcefully asserting her own point of view in the first place. Also, like most left-wingers, Curtis then wants to shut down anyone who reacts to Obama's "baby mama" by calling them a racist for doing so. There’s no better way to stifle debate than to start calling everyone a racist!

Amusingly, Curtis goes on to inform us that the feminist movement never much cared for their black sisters in the first place.

I've long been frustrated, as a black woman and a feminist, with our national conversation. I didn't hear the cause speaking up for women of color or for women who have always worked in blue-collar or service jobs. Choice was not their issue.

Ah, yes, when it comes down to it, it isn't about feminism at all for Curtis. Like most of her media activist type, it's all about the racism. As she says, "But in America, there's seldom a cost for disrespecting black women."

I would laugh at this next line if I didn't think she was serious: "As a journalist, I have stayed neutral about political candidates." Well, maybe she has stayed clear of "political candidates," mostly because racism is her interest, not politics.

But all this whining and gnashing of teeth over how feminists are not supporting Michelle Obama is appalling in the end. You see, I am angry at feminists for their silence, too. They have universally remained utterly silent where REAL female oppression exists. Curtis might think that Michelle Obama is really oppressed and mistreated, but let's talk about the story of Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Or perhaps if the feminists don't want to talk of an individual they can discuss how women as a group are mutilated by the  practice of female genital mutilation? How about the story of how girls born in England are rounded up and sent to the Middle East as child brides? Maybe these silent feminists might find somewhere in their souls the ability to get just a tad upset over the increasing practice of "honor killing" that has left young girls dead all throughout the Western world?

Where are the feminists with these issues? Not visible at all. Silence on real mistreatment of women is what we get from the feminists.

So, yes, I agree with Curtis. There is a "loud silence of feminists" but it isn't over something as silly and inconsequential as the pampered, fortunate life of Michelle Obama. Yes, there is silence, indeed, from the so-called feminists over real abuse and mistreatment of women in this world.

Too bad Mary C. Curtis is just as silent as the rest of them.

(Photo credit: Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University)

Media Bias Debate Race Issues 2008 Presidential Racism Washington Post Journalistic Issues Michelle Obama